It was the fall of 2007 when I finally decided it was time to take action and buy my first house in Richmond. That purchase turned into a double purchase from the same person who sweet talked me into believing he was doing me a favor. Both houses within spitting distance of each other seemed like a good investment. Both in rentable condition ready for the newbie to get the lesson of her life. Aw yes, rentable condition is a matter of opinion, isn’t it? After all, one was already rented to a woman running her day care out of it and had been doing that for years. It had to be nice and safe, Right? Why would anyone have a day care in anything but a safe place? Why indeed?
The other house was just between renters in the process of being painted and almost ready to rent. It seemed like a sure thing. I had an appraiser come over and appraise it and it appraised for $55,000 more than what I paid for it. I didn’t pay for the other house to be appraised but logically it would appraise for a similar money and I didn’t want to spend money unnecessarily so I had him look at it and give me an unofficial confirmation that it would be about the same. Well the fun was only just beginning. The seller made tons of promises that all turned out to be just hot air. He said he had just had both houses inspected and would pass those inspections on to me so I thought, well good that saves me a couple of bucks. He said that he had done all sorts of things to the houses such as go under them and support anything sagging, replace parts of flooring or plumbing. He had his roof guy coat the tin roofs on both of the houses recently. Don’t worry about the green stuff on the siding, he would power wash it off.
Termites? Oh no he had been getting the house treated. Well the termite guy found out otherwise. Turns out both houses were infested, but covered over inside to make it harder to detect. Now I’ve determined that there are plenty of live termites eating away at my 100 year old houses, what next? Fortunately yellow pages were left in the empty house for me to search for a company that would give me the best treatment for the money. When I asked the seller about it, he agreed to pay for the treatment.
I remember asking the seller why the floor in the back bedroom was spongy when you walked on it. He said the former tenant did damage to the floor by using an exercise piece of equipment. It sounded unbelievable. Turns out, I was lucky someone didn’t fall through the floor. That entire floor was eaten up but 99% of it invisible. Termites are sneaky things to be sure. I got some advice about how to proceed with the removal of the soft section of flooring. You get a circular saw and cut it out and replace that section with new wood and after you put the new floor cover on it, no one will know. Sounded fine to me. So I started in on the job of removing bad wood. Now this is a large bedroom with two windows and two closets. It has a chimney on one side that shares the other side with the kitchen. So I started removing layers of floor, revealing nice heartwood pine. I started where it was obviously soft, removing more and more wood. When I got done removing termite eaten wood, The room was empty down to the dirt floor beneath. Every joist supporting the floor was partially or completely eaten up. Fabulous huge 100 year old rough cut 2×10 or larger, 14 ft long boards all destroyed. All that gorgeous heart wood pine eaten up. I could save parts of a few boards.
This was my first time tearing into a house and rebuilding what years of neglect had caused. So long as I was at it, I updated the electricity with the help of my electrically smart son. With his help and the help of a couple of my fabulous friends, I was able to rebuild the back room from the ground up. This was new territory for all of us.
After the floor in the bedroom was back in place, the electrical wires run, and the base board and walls repaired, it was time to get it all repainted. Prep for this job was huge. New windows had to be installed. Lots of caulk. I think we went through between two and three cases of caulk to seal the cracks. I found renters to move in while in a frenzy to finish the house. New years eve I was there with my carpet installer until minutes before midnight. The renters were due to move in on New Years day and I still had to get all the construction stuff cleaned up and out the door. My new renters were coming in the front door as I was going out the back. It had taken two full months of non stop work with no days off and long days worked every day.
The renters had barely gotten moved in when they called me. It was a very cold night. The furnace wouldn’t work. Now mind you it had worked just fine all those weeks we were working on the house. Turns out I have to replace the furnace. The fun never ends.
Next thing I know the roof is leaking. I chase down the former owner who had told me the roof had been redone and was good to go. The man who he told me was the one who had done the roof told me he had never been there before. Ah yes the there is no end to the legacy left from a fabric of lies.
To be continued with pictures added.